Apple MacBook Air M3 review: The best laptop for the price

MacBook Air M3 review

MacBook Air M3 review (Image: APPLE)

Apple’s new MacBook Air M3 is a laptop that’s impossibly tough to beat.

What we love

  • M3 processor is supremely powerful
  • Excellent battery life
  • Now powers dual external displays 
  • New lower starting price
  • Still one of best looking laptops

What we don’t

  • Midnight model gets mucky
  • Ports all on one side
  • Adding extra RAM gets expensive

The Mac is back and even more desirable than before. On the outside, the all-new 2024 MacBook Air may look identical to its predecessor but it’s hiding a secret. Head inside the sleek aluminium body and you’ll find Apple’s mighty M3 processor which makes this lightweight laptop so much more capable. 4K video editing, photo retouching and gaming won’t have this machine huffing and puffing that’s for sure.

It can also boost productivity thanks to external dual-screen support and there’s speedy Wi-Fi 6E now included as well.

Battery life seems never-ending, the screen is excellent and you get Apple’s market-leading keyboard and trackpad.

No, the design hasn’t changed this year and the stunning Midnight colour can still get incredibly mucky.

However, with a new lower starting price and more power than most people will get close to using, the MacBook Air M3 is a laptop that’s impossibly tough to beat.

MacBook Air M3 full review

If you’re looking for a new laptop there’s now another pair of devices to tickle your tech tastebuds. The new MacBook Air 13-inch and 15-inch are ramping things up with a faster M3 chip that improves performance while offering ludicrously long battery life.

To find out just how good this update really is, has been putting the new 13-inch Air to the test – here’s our full MacBook Air 2024 M3 review.

Apple MacBook Air review

Apple MacBook Air review (Image: APPLE)

Design and display

There’s no big design overhaul on this year’s MacBook Air range. That’s no bad thing though as these slimline PCs remain some of the most beautiful laptops money can buy. They are also ludicrously light which means you hardly notice them when tucked inside your backpack. Even the bigger 15-inch model weighs in at just 1.51kg – that’s 50g lighter than its 16-inch MacBook Pro sibling.

There are four colours to choose from including the Midnight version which, out of the box, looks simply stunning. Just a word of warning though, despite Apple adding a new anodisation seal this device remains a magnet for mucky fingerprints and it needs a lot of cleaning to keep it looking pristine.

If we had one main gripe about the Air it would be that all of the ports are on one side. It’s no deal-breaker but we’d have loved to have seen at least one USB-C charging socket appear on both edges of the chassis.

These slimline MacBook Air PCs remain some of the most beautiful laptops money can buy

Just like the overall design, the Liquid Retina display continues to dazzle and you’ll have no issues bingeing on box sets and sending out the daily dose of emails even in very bright light. At 500 nits brightness and 60Hz refresh rate it can’t match the Pro’s 1,000 nits with 120Hz ProMotion tech, but it’s still excellent.

Colours pop, content looks sharp and blacks appear rich on these punchy screens. The standard model gets a 13.6-inch panel whilst those wanting more space for their content might fancy the bigger 15.3-inch Air.

The only thing that slightly disrupts the experience is the iPhone-style notch at the top of the screen. It’s not the prettiest design ever seen but you get used to it quickly and it rarely gets in the way of features in the menu bar – but it’s annoying that notch doesn’t allow for Face ID unlocking or biometrics.

MacBook Air M3 review

The Air remains super portable (Image: APPLE)

MacBook Air M3 review

The new MacBook is powered by Apple’s M3 chip (Image: APPLE)

M3 power

Apple has now added its blisteringly quick M3 processor to these highly portable machines which makes them more powerful than ever.

Both the 13-inch and 15-inch laptops have been given this ultimate boost and having put the smaller model through its paces has been left mightily impressed.

4K video editing, retouching high-resolution photos and sending out the daily batch of emails won’t have the Air huffing and puffing. In fact, it breezes through some pretty intense digital tasks without stuttering or ever getting hot.

The M3 Air is actually around 60% faster than its older M1-powered sibling from 2020 – a laptop that wasn’t exactly slow in the first place.

All the extra oomph means you feel like you’re getting a Pro laptop in a smaller (and cheaper) form factor.

Along with work, the Air’s improved power also makes it excellent for gaming so you’ll have no issues playing some top titles such as The Elder Scrolls and Resident Evil.

The model we tested was the entry-level version with 256GB of storage along with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU.

It’s perfectly adequate for average users but if you think you might start playing intensive games or want to start rendering 3D graphics we’d recommend splashing out and moving to the slightly more expensive 10-core GPU model.

Like all MacBooks, you can’t upgrade components after the device has been purchased so make sure you get the specs right before tapping the buy button.

MacBook Air M3 review

MacBook Air M3 review (Image: APPLE)

Battery life

Ever since Apple first introduced its own M-branded silicon the battery life of its MacBook laptops have outclassed previous Intel-powered machines.

The new Air continues that tradition with these laptops easily able to power through a whole day without going near a plug.

We’ve been putting our model through rigorous testing and battery life has seriously impressed. For example, streaming two hours of video with the screen brightness set to 80 percent saw the battery drop by just 13 percent.

Apple claims the Air can last for 18 hours on a single charge and, if you’re careful, there’s no reason why you won’t get close to that impressive figure.

If you forget your charger you’ll always feel confident that your day’s work won’t be affected by a glowing red battery symbol on the screen.

MacBook Air M3 review

The MacBook Air M3 can power dual screens (Image: APPLE)

The new MacBook Air gets most of the extras you’d expect including a fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner which not only unlocks the display but also lets you make purchases online via Apple Pay. MagSafe charging continues to offer a hassle-free way of replenishing the battery and there’s a decent enough 1080p FaceTime camera for making Zoom calls to the office.

The keyboard is also excellent and the Force Touch trackpad that doesn’t physically move still can’t be matched by any of its rivals.

One of the main changes this year is that this laptop is now able to power two external screens when the lid is shut.

That means you can connect an external keyboard and mouse and use it just like a desktop PC.

With many of us now hybrid working this is a super useful addition as it means one machine offers productivity both at home and on the move.

If you happen to have a Wi-Fi 6E system in your home you’ll also be able to take advantage of that improved broadband technology thanks to full compatibility now inside the Air.

Unlike some new Windows 11 machines, there’s no USB-A socket so you’ll need a dongle if you still have lots of accessories with that connection.

MacBook Air M3 review

Both ports are on the same side of the laptop (Image: APPLE)


With a starting price of just £1,099, it’s a little cheaper than the old M2 version was at launch making it even more attractive to own.

Prices do increase the more memory and disk space you add (it can top out at over £2,200) but it’s worth investing now as you can’t upgrade the Air after it’s been shipped.

Beware that the entry-level model doesn’t feature the really useful two-port USB-C charger so you can’t charge your iPhone at the same time as your MacBook – you have to opt for the 10-core version (£1,299) for that more impressive power pack to be included.

It’s also worth noting that Apple is now selling the very capable older M2 model for just £999 – that’s £100 less than the new M3.

If you have the extra money to spend we also recommend getting the latest model as it will probably get updates for longer. That said, the M2 is still a brilliant machine that’s now a bit of a bargain.

TOP TIP: If you want to future-proof your purchase we’d recommend the M3 Air with 10-core GPU and 16GB of RAM which costs just under £1,500.

MacBook Air M3 review

MacBook Air M3 review (Image: APPLE)

MacBook Air M3: Final verdict

Just when you thought the MacBook Air couldn’t get much better, another powerful update comes along. We were already huge fans of this highly portable PC and now there are even more reasons to invest thanks to the mighty M3 processor, improved external display compatibility and faster Wi-Fi speeds.

Battery life continues to impress, the screen is bright and colourful and there are all the usual features you’d expect on a MacBook such as a tactile keyboard, brilliant ForceTouch Trackpad and fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Yes, it’s a bit of a shame the Midnight colour still gets so mucky, you only get two USB-C ports and there’s no big design change this year.

But this is a brilliant upgrade to a device that was already top of its game.

Other than buying the now cheaper M2 MacBook Air there’s no other reason you shouldn’t take the plunge and order the M3 Air today. It really is that good.


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